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Marks & Spencer Doubles Marketing Buy for Next Season of Denim as Sales Rise

Marks and Spencer sells 15 pairs of jeans every minute, according to the department store retailer’s data, and new styles and a heavily bolstered ad buy will look to increase that advantage in 2020.

With denim sales up double digits, M&S said on Tuesday that it will honor its place at the top of the market with its first denim-based TV ad and double the typical marketing budget for an ad campaign.

Overall, the move fits into the retailer’s larger plan of doubling down on its “killer categories,” which also includes knitwear and sleepwear.

“This is the third marketing campaign for M&S Denim in less than a year but with double the marketing investment and double the buy, it is designed to spotlight the progress and strength of M&S’s denim business focusing on style, fit and value,” Marks and Spencer said in a statement.

M&S women’s wear and children’s wear director Jill Stanton and men’s wear director Wes Taylor have worked to “reenergize” the denim business recently, M&S said, incorporating new styles and products like the “Harper” cigarette cut jean into the category. One of the new women’s styles, the “Ivy” skinny jean, is already a bestseller, prompting M&S to release a brand-new women’s style for the spring campaign known as “Magic Jeans.”

Magic Jeans have a slimming effect, the retailer said, thanks to high waists with gap-proof waistbands, “flattering tummy technology,” and bi-stretch denim. In fact, skinny jeans are the most popular cut at M&S and the retailer said that almost 300,000 pairs of its Ivy style sold between October and December of 2019 at a price of 19.50 pounds ($25.34).

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Men’s wear is more focused on old-school aesthetics, and M&S is jumping on the trend with a “Vintage” range, selling for 29.50 pounds ($38.34) in three fits: skinny, straight and slim. Skinny styles are also increasingly popular among men, M&S data shows, with sales of the cut increasing by more than 150 percent, year-over-year.

At such low prices, the sustainability of such products might draw some questions—but M&S already has an answer for that: a range of women’s jeans featuring polyester made entirely from recycled plastic bottles and 100 percent responsibly sourced cotton, which it said is already present in all M&S jeans.

“Denim is a staple in all of our wardrobes and we know if we get the product right it hits a sweet spot—as perfectly fitting jeans are worn and loved by people of all ages,” Stanton said in a statement. “Our denim business is going from strength to strength and this campaign is a celebration of that—we know if we can get more customers trying on our jeans they will fall in love with our style, fit and value.”

The department store chain is also prepping to make some operational changes to go with its bigger and better outlook, such as a better-informed sizing mix to help consumers get the right style in the right size. The M&S team has reshaped its buy to accomplish this, the retailer said, creating a deeper, more equitable spread to ensure “strong availability” throughout the upcoming marketing blitz.

M&S has already seen the benefits of these changes, it said, as denim women’s wear sales are up 10 percent just a year after its summer denim sales eclipsed the previous Christmas period by 30 percent.

Still, there is work to do in the denim industry if M&S wants to be a true market leader. According to internal data, it ranks just fourth out of 21 brands consumers recognize as a denim brand. Through this new ad campaign, which it said 97 percent of all its target customers will see an average of 13 times, M&S hopes to become a top name in denim.

“This is about more stylish product, in bigger volume at better value—with sales up double digits we’re proud to be making the big even bigger,” Stanton said.